The Ukrainian conflict has come to be considered the most serious geopolitical crisis in Central and Eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War. Its implications go well beyond the borders of Ukraine and its impact for the security of the wider Black Sea region are yet to be contained and understood.
Events unfolding in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine have been interpreted by many security studies experts as signs of an emerging 21st century conflict – one that challenges the traditional Western perception of war and demands a re-evaluation of the way we interpret both conflict and conflict resolution. It is in this framework that the proceedings of the NATO Advanced Research Workshop, Countering Hybrid Threats: Lessons Learned from Ukraine has come to life. The workshop was jointly organized by the “Mihai Viteazul” National Intelligence Academy and the “Bogdan Intemeietorul Moldovei” National Institute for Intelligence and Security, from the Republic of Moldova, under the framework of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Program. It was held in Bucharest, Romania, in September 2015.
The event brought together 50 experts from different fields and perspectives, including policy-makers, security and intelligence practitioners, academia and high ranking officials and experts. The two-day workshop included four keynote speakers' interventions and five panels with presentations and open debates on topics related to the nature of the Ukrainian conflict, the dynamic evolution of the current security threats in Central and Eastern Europe as well as the Black Sea Region. Implications of emerging threats for state and non-state actors were specifically approached, with the North Atlantic Organization at the forefront of these debates. The participants embraced the mission to create an authentic platform to share knowledge, generate a better understanding and a better vision in approaching security challenges.
The book contains 28 articles on the topic of hybrid warfare and related threats, special focus being placed on the challenges political instability and security threats produce in Ukraine and beyond. Authors' contributions touched a series of key topics, extensively discussed during the workshop and later on developed into the four parts of the volume. The contributions are centered on identifying the key drivers of the Ukrainian conflict as well as the most efficient instruments and methods for conflict resolution in order to: better grasp the novelty and scale of the conflict; analyze the potential future implications on regional and Euro-Atlantic security; understand what the further expansion of pro-Russian demands in the region would entail for Euro-Atlantic security at large; and understanding the operational pattern of the Ukrainian conflict.
The first part, The challenges of hybrid warfare: multiple perspectives, addresses the need to provide an accurate definition to the term ‘hybrid war’ and inquiries into whether the Russian-Ukrainian case represents indeed the manifestation of a new form of conflict. In order to understand the challenge from both a conceptual and a methodological point of view, the definition of hybrid warfare has been addressed at length. In this context, in the first part of the volume, several definitions were mentioned and multiple perspectives included, with the contributions of: Ambassador Sorin Ducaru, Florian Coldea, Cristian Eremia and Radu Podgorean. Ambassador Sorin Ducaru, NATO Assistant Secretary General, and Emerging Challenges Division, presents NATO's strategy to counter hybrid warfare, observing the fact that it is based on three interrelated principles: detect, defend, deter. At the same time, Florian Coldea, First Deputy Director of the Romanian Intelligence Service, addresses in his contribution, from a pragmatic and action oriented perspective, the new way to exert power: ‘make use of the hybrid tools’.
The second part of the volume, Hybrid war – an old concept with an extensive dimension, includes contributions focusing on the extensive dimension of the hybrid war concept from authors such as: Todor Tagarev, Iulian Chifu, Costinel Anuţa, Sergiu Medar, Daniela Mitu, Valentin Stoian, Joel Shapiro, Polychronis Nalmpantis. Papers converge on a definition of hybrid war as a coordinated strategy, planned and organized by a central authority, employing both conventional and non-conventional means with the aim of achieving a strategic objective. Correspondingly, the idea of hybrid threat is defined as the intention of an actor, who also possesses the capability to employ these means against another.
Experts contributing to the third part of the volume entitled Counteracting hybrid threats: lessons learned from Ukraine, include: Maria Proca, Rupali Jeswal, Sergei Konoplyov and Alexander Urbanskiy, Florin Diaconu, Cristian Barna and Cosmin Dugan, Irina Malai, Mihaela Teodor and Bogdan-Alexandru Teodor, Natalia Albu. In this section of the book, the authors address the cross-border nature of regional conflicts and hybrid threats which imposes the need for cooperation in order to be able to draw up a joint action plan under the patronage of NATO for all Central and Eastern European states. Contributions seem to converge on the idea that the Russian-Ukrainian scenario is only a new, yet far more extensive manifestation of an old type of war. Furthermore, the authors conclude that the response to a hybrid threat must be contextualized and deployed in accordance with a certain pattern of manifestation and should engage relevant institutions and actors from a variety of domains, from the economic and political sector to the intelligence and diplomatic ones.
The implications of the Ukrainian conflict for Regional and Euro-Atlantic security is the topic tackled with in contributions included in the final part of the volume, signed by authors such as: Vladimir Socor, Vasile Simileanu and Cătălina Monica Muţu, Vitalie Ojog, Przemyslaw Furgacz, Oazu Nantoi, Roman Chirtoagă, Roman Mihăeş, Silviu Nate. In this final part of the proceedings, regional security is addressed as a precondition to building a stable perimeter by countering risks, vulnerabilities and hybrid threats alike. Areas associated with cyber-attacks, the use of CBRN agents, ethnic conflicts, terrorism, illegal migration and organized crime are approached to a great extent. Authors conclude that given the geographical proximity and the long history of political tensions between states from Central and Eastern Europe, states from the Black Sea region and the Russian Federation, concerns expressed by countries in the region towards the Russian expansionist plan are understandable and well framed; and so is their need to be reassured when it comes to NATO's collective defense resolve. Furthermore, all contributions to this volume show that the complexity of the Ukrainian conflict requires the use of a multidimensional perspective, from the academic to the very pragmatic.
Therefore, I strongly believe the publication of this volume of proceedings is a timely event. It gives us the opportunity to reflect with a keen look on recent events and their potential consequences not only inside, but also beyond the borders of Ukraine, the Black Sea Region or Europe for that matter. Therefore, it is our hope that the volume will facilitate a better and shared understanding of the central role played by improved cooperation between the various stakeholders at regional and international level in defusing the Ukrainian crisis as well as other hybrid threats plaguing the region.